Thursday, August 13, 2009
Your health care is in the mail
"People say, well, how can a private company compete against the government? If you think about it, UPS and FedEx are doing just fine. Right? No, they are. I mean, it's the post office that's always having problems." - President Barack ObamaIronically, when President Obama made the above statement to defend how a public option for health care would not put private health insurance out of business, he actually made the argument against having a public option at all.
But let's take his comparison a step further. Think about the mailings for which you use the post office, versus the mailings for which you use UPS or Fedex. A simple greeting card? The post office is good enough, because if it doesn't get there, it doesn't matter (you can always tell grandma that you sent it). A business package which could cost you a deal? Fedex it.
Health care should work similarly: If you have important health problems, you will probably use the private option. If you are healthy, you will probably use the public option. Unfortunately, like in mailings, this will cause the price disparity to grow between the two options. As more unhealthy people choose the private health insurance, it will become prohibitively expensive, sending more people who cannot afford the private option into the public option. In turn, this will cause them to receive "post office"-quality health care, when they really need it "Fedex".
This begs the question of what the government response will be when the public option becomes more expensive than they expect? If it is anything like their handling of the post office, you can expect funding cutbacks. In health care, that means lower quality, or fewer available treatments.
In other words, the poor people who cannot afford the private option will STILL not be getting equal health care. But what if the government were to force the private insurers to charge the same thing as the public option?
Just consider what would happen to UPS and Fedex if the government forced them to charge what the post office does. Simply put, they would either go out of business, or provide approximately the same quality service you get at the post office.
Translate that possibility to health care, and the results are scary.
On the bright side, Obama's original quote above might be a nail in the coffin of this health care fiasco. At the very least, it should have the opposite effect of what he hoped to accomplish, and effectively kill the public option. If we don't need the post office to mail packages, why would we need a public option in health insurance?